More About Impermanence.
A Dharma Glimpse by Dayamay
My car broke down yesterday while I was taking my elderly client shopping. Boot full of bags, middle of a busy street…you know, that sort of thing! I never get used to that feeling of helplessness, when the reality of my dependence on material things, and also, how fragile they are, really hits home.
I remember the last time it happened was in the centre of Bristol, and as the car came to a grinding halt, in an equally inappropriate place, I became aware of some graffiti, scrawled on the wall, somewhat carelessly, but visible and coherent enough to stop me in my self-obsessed state of panic and capture my attention long enough to completely change my attitude towards the situation.
The graffiti read:
“Nothing lasts for ever and all things decay.”
The irony, coincidence and synchronicity of me breaking down at exactly the spot where somebody had felt inspired to discourse the general public on impermanence, did not escape my attention.
I hear the word impermanence spoken and the concept invoked quite a lot in my day to day Buddhist centred business. Almost to the extent where it can sort of lose some of its meaning and power. But in this instance, the impact was live, raw and in my face! Like the Universe had identified a lack of comprehension or a detachment on my part from the depth of the principle, and decided to thrust it onto me – in no uncertain terms.
When physical fact and conceptual understanding coincide, a deeper experience with reality can prevail.
In Pureland Buddhist terms, I would count this as an ‘Other Power’ intervention. Because, not only did it jolt me out of my self-pity, it helped to align me with a core spiritual teaching that points toward something greater than the relatively trivial everday dramas that I find myself caught up in. It showed me the meaning that is intrinsic to the experience.
Fortunately, this time I was a bit closer to home and managed to get my client back mercifully quickly. With the help of some kind people (more other power), who went out of their way for us, and in doing so, also showed me how uncomfortable I still am at receiving; I do still like to indulge in the illusion of self-sufficiency, despite many years of training and general life experience, which testify to the contrary.
So it is in this spirit that I am choosing to approach these latest challenges. It is the action of ‘The Other’ on my life, in my mind and my heart, that brings me the ongoing insight and inspiration, which keeps my faith fresh and my willingness alive.
Namo Amida Bu.